Essential Tremor (ET) is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking. It can affect almost any part of the body, but the trembling occurs most often in the hands especially when people do simple tasks, such as drinking from a glass or tying shoelaces. It may also affect the head, voice, arms, or legs.
Essential Tremor is not life-threatening unless it keeps someone from caring for themselves. Most people are able to live regular lives with this condition, although they may find it hard to do everyday things like eating, dressing, or writing. It’s only when the tremors become severe that they actually cause disability.
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Doctors don’t understand the true cause of essential tremor, but it’s thought that the unusual electrical brain activity that causes it is processed through the thalamus. The thalamus is a structure deep in the brain that coordinates and controls muscle activity.
Genes cause ET in half of all people with the condition. Someone who has ET will have up to a 50% chance of passing down the responsible gene to their child, but the child may never have symptoms. Although ET is more common in older people — and symptoms become more serious with age — it is not a part of the natural aging process.
Known risk factors for essential tremor include:
Genetic mutation- The inherited variety of essential tremor (familial tremor) is an autosomal dominant disorder. A defective gene from just one parent is needed to pass on the condition.
If you have a parent with a genetic mutation for essential tremor, you have a 50 percent chance of developing the disorder yourself.
Age- Essential tremor is more common in people age 40 and older.